Monthly Archives: February 2014

Introducing…Night Windows

Night Windows is a project started by Benjamin Hughes. His self-engineered/produced soon to be released debut album, Musicassette/Magnetic Memory, was crafted from the perspective of a young man facing a reality far different from the one promised him in his youth.

A 26 year-old with a bachelor’s degree worth of debt and a series of unrelated day jobs to pay it back, Hughes is a poster boy for the bursted-bubble millennial generation. He sings about being part of a downtrodden blue-collar work force, helping loved ones through hard times and clinging desperately to his musician dreams which ebb to the margins of his days. With his acoustic guitar, a hand-me-down drum kit and an array of gritty lo-fi instruments and effects, Hughes shaped this seamless 12 track debut album in his bedroom; creating an album with an authentic tone and a personal character you only get with quality lo-fi music.

Influences include but are not limited to Weezer, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Shins, David Bazan, Spoon, The Weakerthans, CAKE, The Flaming Lips, The Good Life, Saves The Day, The Get Up Kids, Wilco, EELS, Death Cab for Cutie, Daniel Johnston, John Vanderslice and Chad Vangaalen. As you can see, this is a musician who takes a lot of interest in a diverse range of music making his own music interesting and adaptable.

Night Windows’ debut album Musicassette/Magnetic Memory is scheduled for release for April 15 2014 via Black Rd Records. As of late January, pre-orders went live and three tracks were made available for streaming. You can listen to those tracks here.

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Introducing…RAMS’ Pocket Radio

Hailing from Northern Ireland, RAMS’ Pocket Radio has just launched his debut single from the album Béton ­(French for concrete) in the build up to his upcoming tour of the USA and Ireland.

The new single is called Love Is A Bitter Thing and will be available for purchase and download everywhere on Monday 17 March.

RAMS’ Pocket Radio is the alias of Northern Irish performer, Peter McCauley. A multi-instrumentalist, RAMS’ takes inspiration from sources as varied as Beethoven and brutalist architecture to construct smart pop songs with a sharp progressive twist. His debut album Béton is a solid statement built on several years writing, performing and growing.

RAMS' Pocket Radio

RAMS’ Pocket Radio

Béton had a unique launch night exclusively in Northern Ireland last June. In the absence of online streaming of the album, the launch presented the perfect opportunity for dedicated fans to get their hands on the physical object before the rest of the world. RAMS’ was joined on stage for the launch by musicians including Nathan Connolly (Snow Patrol), David C. Clements, SOAK, Gareth Dunlop and DukeSpecial.

Love Is A Bitter Thing is the first single to be released from Béton. It has long been celebrated as the jewel in RAMS’ live set and sits as a reflective pause in the album itself. It’s a beautifully written song that is sung from the heart. There’s emotion, passion and a fighting energy to be heard in Love Is A Bitter Thing. It’s your typical pop song written about love and relationships but this song has something more to give. The lyrics, “I would love it if you said that/I want my friend back/I’ve got this feeling/Love is a bitter thing…” are sung with such conviction it’s hard to not get choked up when you listen to McCauley’s vocals. Love Is A Bitter Thing demonstrates the complications that falling in love can lead to – it’s wonderful most of the time but when you lose that feeling, it feels like the hardest thing ever. It becomes a bitter thing.

The single will be accompanied by new versions recorded by Alana Henderson and electronic artist Ryan Vail, as well as an official music video and live duet with SOAK (newly signed to CHVRCHES’ label).

Last winter, RAMS’ had the pleasure of supporting Glassnote signed artist Foy Vance on his extensive U.S. and European tour. Prior to this, RAMS’ has toured Europe, UK and Ireland with bands like Snow Patrol, Get Cape Wear Cape Fly and Darwin Deez. RAMS’ will return to the U.S. this March to play several showcasing performances in New York and SXSW.

You can catch RAMS’ Pocket Radio live on the following dates:

March 8 New York Webster Hall (with Duke Special)

March 10 SXSW Northern Irish party O/S 10pm

March 11 SXSW UKTI Great British Breakfast, Parkside

March 12 SXSW British Music Embassy showcase O/S 2.50pm

March 14 SXSW Full Irish Breakfast, BD Rileys

March 14 SXSW Official Showcase, BD Rileys

March 25 Ruby Sessions, Doyles, Dublin

March 29 Strand Arts Centre [All ages], Belfast

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Introducing…Tara

Tara is an Australian singer songwriter who has chosen Dublin as a new home because of her father’s deep Irish roots. Her music journey began at the age of ten when she picked up a guitar and started casually experimenting with it. She’s never looked back since, and after years of playing around with various musical styles, collaborators and musicians, she’s ready to release her debut single, Stars.

With the help of her musicians; Anthony McMahon, Paul Flood and Ally Donald, Tara manages to channel her ideas live on stage and together they create a performance worthy of a big audience. Tara has played at the Whelan’s Ones To Watch Festival and was voted Gig Of The Week by the Irish Times.

Tara Stars

Stars artwork

Stars is a sonic journey from the word go and sounds like a dreamy perception of Tara’s reality. Her ability to mold soft and ambient soundscapes with energetic coatings of electric guitars create an exciting treat for every listener. The electronic layers of synths and pads add an extra dimension to the song’s texture by wrapping the production gently into the blanket of reverbial sounds.

Tara’s vocals bear an interstellar sparkle and fit perfectly inside the dreamy arrangements. With a blend of Sia, Delilah, Corinne Bailey-Rae and Shaekspear’s Sister, Tara brings energy, conviction and natural talent into the powerful mix of female artists.

Stars works efficiently from a sonic experience and a song-writing point of view. It will be available for sale and download from April 6.

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Monks Of Mellonwah – Turn The People Album Review

Australian indie quartet Monks Of Mellonwah are set to release their new album Turn The People on March 7 through Gatcombe Music Pty Ltd. Throughout 2013, Monks Of Mellonwah released songs from Turn The People in three volumes. The first volume, Ghost Stories, consisted of tracks Ghost Stories, Vanity and Sailing Stones. The second volume, Afraid To Die, features songs Afraid To Die, Alive For A Minute, Downfall and I Belong To You. The final volume is yet to be released.

Having been compared to the likes of Incubus, Muse and The Black Keys, Monks of Mellonwah are definitely a band to watch. While the vocals by Vikram Kaushik are very similar to that of Incubus’ Brandon Boyd, Monks of Mellonwah do have their own unique musical style that cannot be compared. And as ever, this unique sound is as present on Turn The People as on previous EP releases Neurogenesis and Sky and the Dark Night.

Turn The People starts with Ghost Stories Intro – a soft yet haunting track featuring tones that are gradually accompanied by a relaxing drum beat. It’s a brilliant introduction to this fabulous record. It breaks you in gently and leaves you hanging on for more.

From the first note on the guitar of Ghost Stories, you can instantly recognise the record as belonging to the Monks of Mellonwah. Kaushik’s vocals sound mature, they sound different from his vocals on Neurogenesis, for example. His vocals seem cleaner in a way. The chorus, “Turning and burning the apple falls so far from the tree/I cannot take it/It’s burning a flame inside of me” is incredibly catchy and will have you singing along in no time. Kaushik’s vocals are particularly good; they are dramatic and sexy, especially at end of chorus when he holds “me”. Ghost Stories has addictive guitar riffs, vocals and lyrics, “In the forest/Saw the lightning/Bolts and they were scared away/Its cataclysmic/This L.A violence/Holy roller/ Hurricane/I hardly knew/Tried to lose her/ This forest seems to know my name/No horizon in this forest/Only violence takes the stage.” The music builds to become more dramatic throughout the song too.

Vanity is more upbeat and more light-hearted. The track kicks starts with distorted yet sexy vocals once again, “Vanity/Vanity/You’re stretching my insanity/Insanity…”. Vanity feels like a mix between Fall Out Boy and Maroon 5 which is surprisingly brilliant. Vanity has elements of the sounds heard on Maroon 5′s, Songs About Jane. The guitar riff in the chorus screams Maroon 5 while the drum beat and guitar riff towards the end lends itself towards Fall Out Boy as do the vocals throughout. It has that refreshing feel which will instantly have you tapping your feet to the beat.

Tear You Hate Apart is a previously unheard track and sees electronic sounds seep into the record for first time. It sounds more artificially produced than the previous tracks. The drum beat creates this artificial sound. Kaushik’s high pitched vocals are spine-tingling, allowing him to show off his range. It’s a track with a narrative and is quite an emotionally exposing song, “I was lying there that night/When your daddy fell and died/Everybody wept and cried/You just kept your hands with mine/Nice to know I failed you again/I’m sinking, stumbling I don’t know the way/Nice to know you’ll all be OK/My only question/What remains of me?” The lyrics are brilliantly written uncovering a sad side to this energetic band. Tear You Hate Apart shows a deeper side to the writing of this band like their previously released, I Belong To You.

Monks of Mellonwah

Monks of Mellonwah

Pulse keeps with the electronic influences Monks Of Mellonwah have added to their music. There’s an underlying synth melody repeated throughout the song. Pulse has more of a pop feel to it due to this electronic sound. It is more uplifting in its melodic vocals but the lyrics remain less optimistic, “My soul will always be cold/When we run/We find some sun/I don’t feel what’s real/In all the same old things”. Even though some of the lyrics might not be particularly cheery, the chorus is uplifting in its vocal melody. You can almost picture listening to this track’s chorus on a beach in Australia.

Alive For A Minute has a really wonderful deep bass line that starts the track. The bass line draws the listener’s attention to it leaving the drums being heard playing faintly in the background. This bass line is accompanied by the electric synth sounds and strings which add drama. Alive For A Minute is a song you’ll want to hear again and again. Kaushik has the sort of voice that sends shivers down your spine – you can hear his emotion and strength in every line of lyrics sung. This is especially true in the first verse, “Chasing away in a place where the light is all gone/Run around it’s over now the final seed is a no…”

Escaping Alcatraz is another previously unheard song from Monks Of Mellonwah. It’s a dramatic rock number with fabulous guitar riffs at the beginning. It’s quite a heavy song in comparison to the previous songs on the album. Escaping Alcatraz encompasses all this band’s enthusiasm and energy into one song. Once again, those string accompaniments appear in the incredibly dramatic parts making this song an explosion of sounds.

Sailing Stones brings the record back to the familiar sound of the Monks of Mellonwah. Sailing Stones really allows Kaushik to show off his vocal talents as the music is sparse during parts of the song which gives his voice the space needed to show it off. There’s an awesome Indian inspired guitar solo accompanied by dramatic strings towards the end of the song – every listener should hang on just to hear it.

Turn The People is the last previously unheard song on the album. It’s a ballad which sees Kaushik’s vocals accompanied solely by a piano at the start of the track before the synths take over. This is another track that perhaps takes Monks Of Mellonwah away from rock and more towards pop and mainstream. It’s a track with a lot of influences in it making it hard to place into a genre. Either way, it’s an interesting track with beautifully honest lyrics about love.

Downfall continues to build on the Monks of Mellonwah’s rock style as the fast guitar riff plays unaccompanied at the beginning of the song. Kaushik’s vocals are as pleasant as ever on Downfall showing off his soft voice that is naturally good. There’s no straining heard in his vocals. Afraid To Die succeeds Downfall. It starts with low tones and heavy bass with a punchy guitar riff in the forefront.

I Belong To You is a stripped back number with only an acoustic guitar and some soft electronic melodies present making this track the most relaxed on the record. The lyrics, “I still dream of a day of when I’m closer/When I become all that I can be/In my surrender in no conception/I still lose/In my ascension/There’s still no mention of you” are lyrics that can be related to. These lyrics sung with a lack of instruments emphasise the emotion behind this track. It’s still the best track Monks Of Mellonwah have released.

Sky And The Dark Night is the last song on the record and features all the songs from the progressive and experimental Sky And The Dark Night EP that was released last April.

Turn The People sees Monks of Mellonwah succeed in their mission. They set out musically not to repeat past styles yet rather to pave the future for alternative rock. In doing so, they take the pre-eminent sounds of 70s psychedelic rock and 90s alternative and blend it into something fresh and new. Their music is an adventure – not a destination. And this is exactly what Turn The People is – an adventure.

Turn The People will be released on March 7 2014.

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Battle Worldwide Recordings To Release Limited Edition 12″ Vinyl, My First Record, My First Store, For Record Store Day

As part of Record Store Day, which takes place on April 19, Battle Worldwide Recordings will be releasing a limited edition 12″ Vinyl entitled My First Record, My First Store. This record will feature a variety of Battle Worldwide Recordings’ acts covering tracks from albums that truly inspired and helped mould them into the artists they are today.

What is the defining point in an artist’s life that makes them take a path that will envelope their interests and work for the rest of their life? Every musician has a point, usually in their teens, that is an awakening that excites their senses and drives them to pick up a guitar, microphone, drum kit or even a laptop nowadays and start producing music. My First Record, My First Store is a physical and digital diary from Battle Worldwide Recordings’ artistes and partners, put together for Record Store Day 2014.

My First Record, My First Store will map stories from each artiste on the label about the record that most influenced them, where they bought it and why it was important to them. Over the coming months, stories will be added to the Battle Worldwide Recordings website that will include streaming links and other goodies. On Record Store Day 2014, Battle Worldwide Recordings will release a limited edition colour vinyl compilation of artist recordings of select tracks.

You can follow the campaign here.

 

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The Machine Room Release New Single, Chances/Your Head On The Floor Next Door

Scottish skygazers The Machine Room are set to release their new single Chances/Your Head On The Floor Next Door via Disorder Recordings on March 3, followed by the Sweden EP two weeks later on March 17.

The Machine Room

The Machine Room

New label Disorder Recordings is set to release new material from The Machine Room next month. Disorder Recordings rises from the promoters behind the popular Old Blue Last club night. The Machine Room packed out many venues throughout 2013 including The Shacklewell Arms, Birthdays and The Bull & Gate as well as appearing at festivals such as T In The Park. It’s 2014 and they’re back ready to release new material that was only previously heard at their enthralling live shows.

Chances is the second single to be released from their forthcoming EP  after last year’s single, Sweden, was released via Fierce Panda/Label Fandango. Sweden attracted a whole load of positive press including being made Track Of The Week by The 405, described as “…melodic finesse with a knack for a sky-scraping chorus”. Chances is backed up by Your Head On The Floor Next Door, a hypnotic rhythm filled tune that packs a punch, sure to fill dance floors across the country upon its release. Released alongside will be a re-mix of Chances by Telfort.

The Machine Room  from Edinburgh consist of songwriter and multi-instrumentalist John Bryden backed up by Adie Emanuel (drums), Cecilia Stamp (synths, keys, guitar, backing vocals), Ryan Marinello (guitar, backing vocals) and Scott Hitchings (bass), exist in their own swirling world of heavyweight rhythms and featherweight melodies. Chances will be released on March 3 2014 and picks up where the mildly electro-fied dreamers left off with Sweden last year. It’s catchy, dreamy guitars swoon between haunting vocals and complex beats making this new offering every bit as epic and enthralling as their previous release.

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The Notwist – Close To The Glass Album Review

The Notwist have always been pioneering their own sound, walking a trail of songs across genres toward something definitively new and distinctly them. Yet the German born band are never running from their previous creations but rather toward the next and in doing so have crafted a series of personal yet impeccable records that warmly thread together the far corners of independent music. Simply speaking, the Notwist make this careful and banging, private yet pop, post-everything music for the movie going on inside you.

Their latest full length Close To The Glass is yet another courageous leap into the sky of songs. It is a catchy and unpredictable marriage of playing your heart out on an instrument and the magnetic pulse of precise programming. While the band always creates music ripe with authenticity and mood, we find them now defining their edges with no shortage of bravery or beat.

As romantic as it is robotic, Close To The Glass is a bottomless collage; part pop song, part science, part band, part story telling and all Notwist. The sturdy glue between the layers of Close To The Glass is their new found synergy as a band. No longer co-writing parts, Markus Micha and Martin have finally found their human form and in some ways, at last, have become The Notwist. Along side Max and Andi, they write, re-write and record songs as one, tapping into the energy they possess on stage, and naturally arriving at the band all their exploratory recorded music had cut out for them.

Close To The Glass is The Notwist’s first album for six years and the break has been worth it, for this record proves that throughout their many genres and sounds, they’ve never lost their knack for pioneering unique, experimental electronic-flavoured rock.

Title track Close To The Glass is a collage of experimental, synthesised sounds blended with deadbeat vocals. The song starts with unusual percussion sounds which are instantly captivating. It’s such a strange track that you can’t help but love it. It’s a complete mish-mash of everything which shouldn’t work but does.

The Notwist have recently premiered their new single Kong which is taken from Close To The Glass. It’s irresistibly upbeat and a complete contrast to the title track. The track, driven by its beat and anthemic guitar chords, is The Notwist’s homage to 90’s indie-pop. The lyrics tell the true story of a young Markus and his family trapped in their home by a flood, dreaming as hard as he could about being saved by superheroes as the water rose around them. The eponymous Kong is, according to Markus, “a mixture of King Kong and Superman”, swooping in to rescue the desperate young boy and his family from disaster.

The Notwist have also recently released the video for Kong. The animated visual, directed by Japanese film-maker Yu Sato and featuring illustrations from Tim Divall, tells the true story of the flood. Little did Sato know when making the video quite how scarily apt it would be when released – for us in the UK at least.

Into Another Tune is a song with synthesised string accompaniments building a dramatic and crackled melody. The vocals also have a slight distorted effect adding an atmosphere to this already charming track, “I’ve been trying/Too many times to break free/I’ve been lying/Too many times to break this/Stop/Tonight/And all of it suddenly breaks…”.

The second half of Close To The Glass feels more established as a solid record. Casino starts this off. It’s a brilliant acoustic indie track whose lyrics tell a story, “After our life in the casino/We know that gambling is a joke/To say I’m not here for the money/Is just another word for ‘broke’/One room for us/One room for both of us/One room for us is not available.” There’s a solemn side to this song but it’s a beautifully crafted track with the simple acoustic rhythm guitar and softly sung lyrics.

Seven Hour Drive spices the album up again with clear Nada Surf influences being heard on it. The many distorted layers on this track accompanied by the vocals sounds very much like this song has snuck off a Nada Surf record. It’s a song for summer with the chorus, “Our love is a seven hour drive/Seven hour drive/Seven hour drive to love” sticking in your head.

Steppin’ In is another acoustic track with those string accompaniments reappearing making this a dramatic and sad number. There are folk influences to be heard in this track. The slightly un-tuneful vocals also help to make this song sound particularly lonesome and sad. It’s another beautifully crafted number really showcasing how diverse The Notwist are as a band, especially as the next track, Lineri, introduces electronics to the album. Lineri is a chilled, electronic track which is entirely different from any of the previous songs on album. The synthesised sounds allow you to drift off into another world while the drum beat ensures you stay aware of the rhythm and consequently you remain actively listening.

They Follow Me ends the album. The synthesised sounds play a huge part on this song but at times, it can sound a little bit like noises off a Gameboy game. The synths have been made to sound like string accompaniments to fade out on which gives a nice symmetry with the earlier Into Another Tune. It’s such a gentle, exposing track to end the album on, “I couldn’t help myself/But run away/Those hands/Ruin everything/But I’m not afraid/Of no-one else…”, that it leaves its audience feeling slightly nostalgic and thoughtful.

Close To The Glass sounds like a compilation record. It’s sporadic, unusual and incredibly hard to pin down genre-wise, as The Notwist will always be. It’s unusual for bands to be able to be so diverse, sounding at times like a completely different band. The Notwist are brilliant even if a little too diverse at times. Being unable to define them increases their likeability while at the same time, it separates them. They remain unfamiliar which some people will love and others will hate. Some people like routine and comfort and if that is what you’re looking for, don’t turn to The Notwist. They will never fail to surprise or astound you at their abilities to intertwine many genres. The Notwist’s Close To The Glass are for those who like change, like to feel uncomfortable and ultimately are looking for something entirely breath-taking and genre defying.

Close To The Glass is out on February 24 via City Slang.

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